Unit 1 | Local Government

Why does local government matter?

Through a series of lessons, this unit helps students understand the multitude of ways that local government impacts their lives. Beginning with a focus on vocabulary, students then situate themselves in their cities and counties. Then students explore what they value in their local government and how they can implement change. Finally, the unit provides an opportunity for students to take an in-depth look at the local Patwin Nations who influence the daily lives of students across Yolo County through an interview process. 

A note about these lessons:  The individual materials in this collection have been developed by Stephanie Kugler, a teacher at Bridgeway Island Elementary School in West Sacramento in collaboration with the California History-Social Science Project. 

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Color image of Sacramento Capitol with Blue and Yellow balloons
Image Credit
Karin Higgins
Who is in my local government and what do they do?

This lesson helps students develop common vocabulary for local government and provides them the opportunity to situate themselves within their community. Students leave the lesson knowing who run their city and county and where they can go for important services.




Color photo of a protest with signs that say "Climate Strike"
Image Credit
Gregory Urquiaga
How does local government affect my life?

After first asking students to think about what they value, students then select one category in which local government impacts their life to investigate further. Students conclude the lesson with a sense of their own beliefs as well as how local government can help further their goals.



Color photo of a sign that says "Vote Here"
Image Credit
Gregory Urquiaga
In what ways can individuals influence local issues that matter to them?

Through a deep dive into local measures from 2020 and 2022 in Yolo County, students gain understanding of how important it is to vote on all levels of government, not just president. Students end the lesson with a clear understanding of local measures and how they would vote in an election.



Color image of a sign that reads "You are on Patwin Land"
Image Credit
Karin Higgins
How do the Patwin Nation's governments serve, support, and sustain their people and the people of Yolo County?

The relationship between Indigenous Nations and local government is a critical component for students to explore. After analyzing key terms, students conduct interviews with local Patwin representatives to learn about their history, culture, government, and connection to Yolo County.

Final Task

After completing the four lessons, students construct a formal argument answering the question: Why does local government matter? Students can present their argument in the form of an infographic, a one-page argument, or a paragraph. They are required to include evidence from each lesson as part of their argument and include in depth analysis to support their claims.